This is an archived article.

June 4, 2009

AYPE remembered: Self-guided tours of campus exposition sites now available

Throughout the summer you’ll be able to take a tour of the most important sites of the 1909 Alaska-Yukon-Pacific Exposition — with or without a tour guide. Tours led by representatives of the Friends of Seattle Olmsted Parks started in April (see our story here), and the Museum of History and Industry in association with the Architectural Foundation began their tours in May.

But the University’s Regional Affairs office wanted to make it possible for people to take a tour on their own, whenever they happened to come to campus. So, working with the Visitors Information Center and UW Marketing, they’ve produced signs and a brochure containing a self-guided tour.

“The signs will be mounted at important locations for the AYPE,” said Kathleen Dannenhold of regional affairs. “There will be information on the signs and then more detail in the brochure.”

The tour has nine stops, starting with Red Square, which was the site of the “Court of Honor” during the exposition. It included the massive Government Building, which was flanked by other neoclassical buildings. Funded by the U.S. government, these contained detailed exhibits about American history and government.

Stop two is the George Washington statue, which was commissioned by the Rainier Chapter of the Daughters of the American Revolution and unveiled two weeks after the AYPE opened. It originally stood on NE 40th Street, just east of 15th Avenue Northeast, which was the main entrance to the exposition.

Stops three and four are two of the buildings that remain from the AYPE — the Architecture Building and Cunningham Hall. The Architecture Building was the Fine Arts Building at the exposition, and contained art from all over the world. Cunningham, which now houses the Women’s Center, was the Washington State Woman’s Building during the exposition and a gathering place for suffragists. Their efforts must have been successful, because Washington granted women the right to vote the next year, 1910, a decade before they won that right nationally.

Stop five is Frosh Pond, which Dannenhold calls the heart of the exposition’s legacy. “Rainier Vista was the heart of the exposition and it’s the heart of campus now,” she said. “That design by the Olmsted Brothers is what really remains from the AYPE.”

The pond was called Geyser Basin during the exposition, and a series of waterfalls poured into it from Red Square. It wasn’t until 1961 that a regent named Thomas Drumheller donated money for the fountain we see today.

Part of the road we now call Stevens Way was known as the Pay Streak during the AYPE, and that’s stop six on the tour. The Pay Streak was a sort of carnival with an eclectic assortment of displays, many of which we would find objectionable today, including real babies in incubators and “primitive” people in villages.

The south entrance to the fair, stop seven on the tour, is at Stevens Way and Rainier Vista. A gate that blended traditional Japanese Torii with Northwest Coast totem pole designs stood on the spot, which was the terminus to a streetcar line.

The final two stops are the UW Club and the HUB. The UW Club building stands on the site of the Hoo Hoo House, a clubhouse for the region’s lumbermen. Designed by Seattle architect Ellsworth Storey, it served as the UW Faculty Club until 1959, when a building designed by Paul Hayden Kirk and the late UW Architecture Professor Victor Steinbrueck took its place.

The notable Forestry Building at the exposition, which stood near where the HUB now is, was a “timber temple” made of massive logs with the bark kept intact.

Each sign at the nine stops on the tour is 2 feet by 3 feet and contains several photos, a quote from someone connected with the exposition and information about the site. They are being mounted in permanent frames that will be reused for other signage after the AYPE centennial celebration is over.

Dannenhold did most of the research to create the signs. “I was so excited about it because I’m kind of a history buff and the pictures are just phenomenal,” she said. “The exposition was exciting for people in the Northwest and it really opened the region up to the world. My feeling is that the University became more connected to the world and started to take off after that.”

The self-guided tour brochures will be available in early June at the Visitors Information Center, Suzzallo and Allen Libraries and University Book Store.

Guided tours by the Friends of Seattle Olmsted Parks are at 10 a.m. on the last Saturday of the month. They are free, but registration is required. E-mail Friends@SeattleOlmsted.org or call 425-885-3173.

Guided tours by MOHAI and the Architectural Foundation are on the first Thursday of the month beginning at 6 p.m. They are $15. Click here to sign up.

Click here to visit a Web site detailing UW activities in connection with the AYPE centennial.